Reactions from the international community and Afghan politicians continue to pour in after the Afghan government this week announced the formation of a 21-member peace negotiating team chosen to participate in the intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday welcomed the move by the Afghan government.
“Pakistan welcomes the recent announcement by Afghan leadership on formation of negotiation team, which should pave the way towards the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations process. Pakistan believes it is an important step reflecting commitment of the leadership to according priority to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The US-Taliban Peace Agreement has provided a historic opportunity to establish durable peace and stability in Afghanistan, which can be realized by resolving differences, eschewing recrimination, working constructively together, and cooperating in the supreme interest of the country,” the statement said.
Also on Wednesday, The UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and OIC UNAMA, Ingrid Hayden, in a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday said that it is heartening that despite the political impasse, the Afghan establishment has been able to agree on a diverse negotiating team.
“UNAMA is urging all Afghan parties to work together to resolve their differences peacefully for the good of the people of Afghanistan,” she said. “Now is not the time for divisions. Now is the time for statesmanship, accommodation and inclusivity. The interests of Afghans must come first – including the rights of all women, minorities and youth.”
She said that UNAMA has encouraged the Taliban to include women in their delegation, as they have an empowered, decisive voice at the table. “Doing so would send a tangible signal that the movement has fundamentally reformed,” the UNAMA deputy envoy said.
“Having announced its negotiating team, the Islamic Republic has the weighty task of equipping its negotiators with the necessary skills to help frame its agenda, and the necessary principles to secure and advance the rights of its citizens,” she said.
The EU welcomed the agreement by the Afghan political leaders on an inclusive negotiating team, saying the move is a step forward towards the start of the intra-Afghan talks. It also called on the Taliban to reduce violence.
“This constitutes an important step towards starting intra-Afghan negotiations and solving the domestic political crisis. We offer our full support to the newly established team. We encourage all political leaders to promote the effective participation of women, youth and victims,” the EU statement said.
“We...call on the Taliban to show genuine commitment to peace negotiations and to reduce violence and engage in meaningful discussions on a ceasefire, as per the Doha Agreement,” said the EU statement.
The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, also appealed to all leaders and parties in Afghanistan to work together for an urgent and lasting ceasefire and an end to violence.
The OIC chief urged all Afghan parties to engage in dialogue in order to reach comprehensive reconciliation and lasting peace within the framework of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
“In these critical circumstances, which require support, solidarity and national unity to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the Secretary General stressed the need for all leaders and parties to support the preventive efforts and measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to curb the spread of the disease and protect its citizens from the spread of the epidemic,” the OIC said in a statement.
Afghanistan’s central Asian neighbor Uzbekistan also welcomed the formation of the peace negotiating team, saying "it is extremely important at this stage to implement the agreements reached earlier on a ceasefire and stopping the violence."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press conference on Tuesday, speaking about the delegates announced by the Afghan government for intra-Afghan talks with Taliban, said: “We’ve seen a team identified. Looks like it’s pretty inclusive, pretty broad. We’re happy about that.”
“We’ve begun to see some work done on prisoner releases as well, all elements that have to come together so we can get to the intra-Afghan negotiations, which will ultimately prove to be the only mechanism that has any hope of delivering peace and reconciliation to the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
In an answer to whether the US would reconsider its $ 1 billion aid cut following the formation of the negotiating team and Abdullah's endorsement, Pompeo said that the US will "constantly re-evaluate" its posture with respect to Afghanistan, with security assistance and humanitarian aid.
The 21-member team was announced by the government on March 27. It was welcomed by President Ashraf Ghani’s political rival Abdullah Abdullah as well as some other politicians who wished that it would lead the country to intra-Afghan negotiations.
“Our lasting position is that a fair, dignified and sustainable peace is the priority of all Afghan citizens,” said Abdullah on Tuesday.
“We welcome and we are thankful to national figures, parliament and other organizations that have made efforts to resolve the current crisis. We acknowledge that there are still considerations by some sides on the makeup of the negotiating team, which are understandable,” Abdullah said.